Clydesdales ring in beer laws in Lone Tree, Denver

Famous Budweiser horses make stops at state Capitol, Safeway

Nick Puckett and Shanna Fortier
Staff writers
Posted 1/8/19

To ring in the New Year and Colorado's new law allowing the sale of full-strength beer in grocery and convenience stores, the famous Budweiser Clydesdales visited a Safeway in Lone Tree. The mascots …

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Clydesdales ring in beer laws in Lone Tree, Denver

Famous Budweiser horses make stops at state Capitol, Safeway

Posted

To ring in the New Year and Colorado's new law allowing the sale of full-strength beer in grocery and convenience stores, the famous Budweiser Clydesdales visited a Safeway in Lone Tree.

The mascots for the American beer company since 1933, the Budweiser Clydesdales travel across the country in ceremony for various events. On New Year's Eve, the horses visited the state Capitol, and Jan. 1 they visited the Lone Tree Safeway, one of the beneficiaries of the new law.

“We’re happy to celebrate this day with Coloradans while the state embraces modern beer laws that will help the Centennial State’s vibrant beer industry continue to prosper,” Greg Sollazzo, Anheuser-Busch regional vice president, said on Dec. 31 in Denver.

Not everyone was celebrating, though. Some owners of metro-area liquor stores are concerned about taking a possible hit to their sales this year.

The change is due to Senate Bill 16-197, passed in 2016, which eliminates the two tiers for sales and allows all retailers licensed to sell beer to do so, regardless of alcohol content.

This means Coloradans can now buy full-strength beer at liquor stores, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations and big-box retailers such as Walmart, Target, Costco and Sam’s Club. Hours for beer sales every day are 8 a.m. to midnight.

The new law will not change where wine and liquor can be purchased. Only licensed liquor stores can sell wine and liquor in Colorado. Hard cider is considered wine under the law, so to find the full-strength versions Coloradans will still need to buy it from a liquor store.

Ben Ammari, manager of Vineland Liquors in north Arvada, said he believes his family-run liquor store will take a 10 percent hit on beer sales over the next year. Their store is located about 10 blocks from two King Soopers stores and one Safeway.

“I think the first two to three months are going to show a lot,” Ammari said. “We will adapt to what we need to in order to survive. The way I look at it is that, hopefully, the Colorado community will continue to back the family-owned stores.”

Under the new rules, some 1,600 stores will have their licenses automatically upgraded, allowing them to replace their 3.2 percent beer with higher-alcohol content brews. That includes more than 100 stores for both King Soopers and Safeway, according to state records.

Grocers are promising a diverse set of options — including local beer unique to different regions as well as mega-brewers, such as Anheuser-Busch and Coors, and larger craft breweries, including Boston Beer, New Belgium and Sierra Nevada.

“This bill made tomorrow a historic day in Colorado,” Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert, R-Parker, said on New Year’s Eve. “We’ve worked together to bring us to this point. Beer will finally be beer in Colorado.”

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